Journal article Open Access

Water enclosure and permanent primary accumulation: the Acauã Dam and the new water path in the State of Paraiba, Brazil (in Portuguese)

de Morais, Hugo Belarmino

Article 1 of Vol. 7, No 1, Water politics, violence, and injustice: experiences from Brazil, Guatemala, and Mexico, Jose Esteban Castro (Ed.), Karina Kloster (Org.), Newcastle upon Tyne and Mexico City, March 2020

The objective of this article is to analyze the conflicts arising from the construction of dams for water supply or irrigation in the Brazilian Northeast. It first discusses the Acauã Dam, built between 1999 and 2002 in Agreste da Paraiba, State of Paraiba (PB), Brazil, which directly affected around one thousand families and represents an emblematic case of human rights violations against the people affected by dams in Brazil. The theoretical approach is grounded on the concepts of “accumulation by spoliation” and “land and water grabbing” to better understand the case and see it as part of a significant totality linked to the contemporary phenomenon of  enclosures”, which are understood as a process that is permanently re-enacted. This study led us to identify two important new developments in Paraiba: the arrival of the waters of the São Francisco River, and the construction of the Acauã-Araçagi Channel, which indicate the emergence of a new process of “water enclosure” by public authorities and agro-hydro-businesses. This process represents a form of “water security” that contradicts the official rhetoric about the necessity and importance of these waterworks for  society, and rather replicates histories of extractivism recorded in several Latin American countries, in a context of expanded capital accumulation.

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